Coronavirus

COVID-19 Update: Austria Allows SMBs To Reopen; Harvard Implements Spending Freeze

COVID-19

Austria is letting shops open again as it relaxes its coronavirus lockdown, while universities in the U.S. are taking measures to combat the economic impacts of the virus. Here are the latest updates on COVID-19.

Austria, one of the first European nations to relax a coronavirus lockdown, has let thousands of stores open again, Reuters reported.

One florist said per the report, “I am incredibly relieved, both for my colleagues and for myself because it was a very, very long time for us, and above all an uncertain time.”

Some, however, are raising worries that a relaxation in the rules could bring about a virus resurgence.

The government had detailed a plan to open portions of the economy again, which would begin with stores that are a maximum of 4,300 square feet. Bigger stores, hairdressers and shopping centers are scheduled to follow beginning May 1.

Austria, for its part, took early action to shutter eateries, schools and theaters, among other venues about one month ago. It instructed the public to remain in their residences and work from home if that was an option.

In other news, Harvard University is putting into place a freeze on wages and hiring, postponing select capital projects and canceling or holding off on discretionary spending because of the coronavirus’ economic impacts, CNBC reported. The educational institution noted that the wage and hiring freeze are for exempt employees.

President Lawrence Bacow, along with Provost Alan Garber and Executive Vice President Katherine Lapp, said in an email per the report, “While many decisions and choices will come into sharper focus in the future, it is already clear that we need to take some actions immediately to align our spending with the decline in our revenue.”

Bacow, Garber and Lapp are reportedly taking 25 percent reductions in salary.

Harvard is among many other schools that are encountering financial stresses because of the pandemic. The University of Southern California also cut back on the wages of its senior officials, while Stanford University put into place a pay reduction for its president and provost.

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